We often compare the story of Hosea and Gomer to the story of God and Israel, and rightly so. Hosea 3:1 says:
And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”
The application is clear: Hosea is called to love this adulterous woman in the same way that God loves his wandering-eyed people. But looking back on the complete canon of Scripture, with the Trinity in view, we can make another comparison: Hosea and Gomer represent Christ and the church.
We are Gomer. And that is immensely comforting.
Hosea’s Obedience and Perseverance
One can only imagine Hosea’s surprise when God told him to continue to chase after his adulterous wife. He could’ve given her a bill of divorce. He could’ve walked away. Instead, he heeded the Lord and never deserted her.
In the incarnation, God sent his Son to redeem his wayward people. Jesus Christ, the God-man, obeyed his Father. He sacrificially pursued his people even to the point of having nails driven into his hands and feet by the people he came to save. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked God to give him another way to restore broken humanity, but also said, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
God would not allow Hosea a way out; he told him to stay and fight through the grueling pain of lying in bed at night with an adulterous woman. Jesus went to the cross, bearing the wrath of God and the sins of the world on his own shoulders. He didn’t walk away. He didn’t acquiesce to Pilate and save his own skin. Because of his great love for his bride, he laid down his life for her (Eph. 5:25-27).
Gomer’s Disobedience and Indifference
While we’re not entirely sure of Gomer’s love for Hosea, it is clear that her heart is not entirely given to him. Perhaps she loves him but cannot break away from old habits. Though his love for her is palpable, she continues to be wooed by (or perhaps even prey upon) other men.
Throughout the Book of Hosea, we see both the loving-kindness and frustration of God with his people. Like Gomer, they refuse his repeated attempts at reconciliation and continue to ignore his love. But we must remember that God did not leave Israel to continually wallow in her own desires. At least not entirely and not forever.
Christ echoes God’s steadfastness with Israel in Matthew 23:37:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Jesus’s life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming show that God wasn’t telling Hosea to do something he wasn’t willing to do on a much grander scale. He did not forsake his people, despite their long history of disobedience and indifference. The Father’s sending of the Son is the definition of grace: unmerited, underserved, logic-shattering favor.
Story of Hope
We are Gomer. We are spiritual adulterers. We want to have it our way, and we are willing to reject God’s covenantal faithfulness for fleeting one-night stands with idols. While it’s hard to admit that we are no different than Gomer, it’s a truth that we can embrace with humility and comfort.
The story of Hosea and Gomer reminds us that God loves us not because of our faithfulness, but because of his. Christ saves, and continues to intercede for, the bride who covets other men. Until we see God face-to-face, we will continue to be drawn to other things. But for now, our Husband stands and fights.
We are Gomer. And we are hopeful.